LA Biz Observed archive

Mark Lacter covered business, the economy and more here from 2006 until his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
The entire LA Biz Observed archive — more than 10,000 blog posts by Mark — remains online and available.
July 2013

Why the economy is merely shuffling along

GDP2013.jpg Blame a sharp drop in the percentage of government spending and a disappointing amount of business investment. It's like a heat wave that easing but not fully broken.

L.A. home prices going up too much, too fast

homesale2.jpg A big reason for L.A.'s price gains is the limited number of homes on the market (as well as the large numbers of buyers paying all cash).

After brief blackout, CBS, Time Warner Cable extend talks

cbs2.jpg Last-minute contract talks between a cable company and one of its content providers are not unusual, but blacking out programming in the nation's two largest markets is definitely out of the ordinary.
amazonsm.jpg This would be the latest in a string of deals that have been cut by online giants wanting to integrate content into their operations.

Activision finally takes control of its company

activision2.jpg The Santa Monica-based videogame giant has seen huge success over the years, but since 2007 the company was under the thumb of French media giant Vivendi, which held a majority stake. Now that's over.

Register owner says paper's numbers short of expectations

register.jpg Aaron Kushner has not provided financial results, but he said in an interview that his strategy to push print might take a while to succeed. "The early indication on the advertising and subscription side is that, ultimately, we will achieve our expectations," he said.

Hacking into your car's computer system

Imagine driving along minding your own business when all of a sudden your horn goes off and there's no way to stop it. Then you lose your brakes, then your steering. And you haven't done a darn thing.

Sobering news about the economy

joblessrate.jpg Part-time employment, both voluntary and involuntary, skyrocketed in June, which is not what you'd normally want to see in a recovery. If you're young and lacking a college education, you might not even be working at all.

City Council approves Hollywood Millennium*

millennium.jpg With support from Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, there wasn't much doubt about the vote.

Why you should never pay attention to polls on economy

GDP.jpg No offense, but respondents often haven't the first clue of what they're talking about. Case in point: A majority of those surveyed by McClatchy-Marist believe that the nation is still in a recession.

CBS, Time Warner Cable waiting for the other guy to blink

TWC.jpg This is a slow-ish time for TV watching, so it wouldn't be surprising to see CBS pulling the plug, at least for a bit. The company has to calculate how much advertising revenue would be lost short term, while Time Warner Cable must figure out its losses from cable subscribers.

If California is such a pit, why the solid job growth?

californiaflag.jpg June's employment report flies in the face of the usual naysayers who insist that this state is just plain evil. Don't tell that to the business owners who are staying put - and hiring.

Detroit's hopes and dreams, circa 1965

Kind of sad to see the then-mayor going on about the Detroit of almost 50 years ago - especially the emphasis on planning efforts that would reshape the city and "create a new concept of urban efficiency."

L.A.'s saving grace: It's not Detroit

detroit.jpg The distinction is worth making on the day that Detroit became the largest American city to ever file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. L.A. certainly has its fiscal problems, but the financial picture has been improving.
uber.jpg This is a business battle, of course, but it's also a reflection of how a younger generation is looking at L.A. in much different ways than their parents.

Socal housing market could be stabilizing

homesales3.jpg Buyers paying with cash fell slightly in June and lending activity is picking up. Also, there are signs that more homes are being put on the market.

Why is Petersen Museum selling off its cars?

petersen.jpg The museum's new honchos apparently prefer motorcycles and French art deco vehicles (huh?) to classic automobiles - what the Petersen is supposed to be all about.

Parent of Gelson's market considers sale

gelsons.jpg This is not the greatest time to be owning a supermarket chain in Southern California, what with competition from big-box stores, membership operations, smaller boutique chains, and now, the Amazon Fresh service.

Tribune Co. to split off papers into a separate company*

tribune.jpg The Tribune people did say that they would still consider selling off their newspapers, but this morning's announcement would indicate that for the time being, the L.A. Times, the Chicago Tribune and the other papers will remain intact.

Can driverless cars reshape L.A. and other cities?

driverless5.jpg Way too early to know, though researchers are beginning to think about the possibilities, which are considerable and not that far off.

Your life or your carry-on?

asiana3.jpg Must I make a choice? Some of the passengers getting off the wreckage of the Asiana 777 apparently thought they could have both.

Still a hassle flying to SF

asiana2.jpg The LAX flight status board shows both delays and cancellations to SFO, the result of low-lying clouds in the Bay Area, as well as the continued closure of one of the four runways up there.

Why did so many passengers survive Asiana crash?*

asiana.jpg Lots of reasons, from passenger seats being able to withstand tremendous force to the use of flame-resistant materials. Of course, none of that clears up the matter of why this happened in the first place.
lapix.jpg All the ingredients are in place: An improving economy, a very accommodating Planning Department, state and local incentives that are hard to keep track of, and more available construction financing.
ktla.jpg Probably not. If anything, the acquisition of 19 additional stations signals that the parent company of the LAT is moving away from print.

Out of L.A.'s sweltering heat, a little fresh air

garcetti2.jpg On the first day of a new job, we all tend to look at the bright side. Then reality comes into focus. In L.A.'s case, reality is a hacked-up government that desperately needs effective leadership. Here are some areas to keep an eye on in the opening months.